What does landscaping cost?
Impossible to say, right? There are so many variables and each landscape project is unique. Ross NW Watergardens has done landscape renovations that were just a couple thousand dollars and residential landscapes that were over $300,000. I can pretty much guarantee that your project falls somewhere between those two extremes...
But I can do better than that. In this post I will try to give an overview of a typical landscape renovation with some ballpark prices. Further down is pricing specific to Portland, OR.
Typical landscape project costs:
For this discussion a "typical" landscape is on a residence, perhaps one that has recently been remodeled. The house is not brand new and the landscape is not a blank slate. There is some lawn and a small number of mature plants. Let's assume a typical lot size as well- 5,000 to 10,000 square feet. And you do not live on a slope or with really poor access for trucks and equipment.
This sort of project starts with a landscape consultation. If you need a landscape design it will cost $500-$3500. However, many landscape projects can proceed with a detailed description and simple sketch- which probably won't cost you anything.
Let's assume that you are doing just the front yard (backyard landscaping is phase 2). The lawn will be smaller, but new grass is needed. A few of shrubs will be pruned and/or transplanted. 10-15 new plants (5 gallon shrubs and 1 gallon perennials and grasses) and a couple trees will be installed. A few boulders are set too. The beds get finished with bark dust and everything is left clean. What does this cost? This would usually be between $4,500 and $6,000.
If you need an irrigation system, drainage, substantial grading, retaining, or low voltage landscape lighting then the price would obviously be higher.
Now let's consider the backyard. The back will be landscaped in a style similar to the front. Usually the backyard is larger than the front, and access is a little more difficult. So, a back yard landscaped similar to the description above would be $5,500-$8,000.
Total this all together and you see that a solid, but fairly basic, landscape renovation starts at around $10,000.
What if you need (or want) more?
Let's add an irrigation system, 10 low voltage lights, and either some drainage work or light grading. This would usually add between $7,000 and $12,000 to your project.
I realize that these numbers are very broad, and are only so useful. But maybe they can help you decide if you are ready to contact a landscaper about your project.
Live in Portland? The information below is just for you!
Many people's journey towards a new landscape goes like this:
Find a Portland areas landscaper online, read their reviews, check out the portfolio, browse the blog and then schedule a meeting for a week or two later. The meeting goes well and leads to a proposal for the project about a week after that. You open the proposal and find that your tastes don't match your budget.
This is bummer for you.
You wasted your time, got your hopes up, and had someone else expend a bunch of effort for nothing. Now you are back at square one and not sure where to go next.
How Much $$ ?
I am here to help. Below you will find some ballpark prices for landscaping here in Portland in 2018. There are also links to posts I have written on this in the past along with some other online resources that might be helpful. If I don't cover your project scope below feel free to leave a comment with a brief description and I will try to help.
On to the prices!
Portland Landscaping Prices:
Landscape designs cost $500 - $3000+
Landscape design is the process of developing plans that can be used by you or a landscape contractor to install a new landscape. The final product you are paying for is drawings on paper.
The cost will depend on a variety of factors, including the scope of your project and prominence of your designer.
Some projects require a landscape architect and their rates are usually higher.
Landscape Design Resources:
Portland's best landscape designers (besides us).
Most landscape projects are between $10,000 and $30,000
It is very difficult to give a price for new landscaping, as it varies wildly. But individual elements can be given a ballpark price, which may be helpful in determining your budget.
Patios and pathways are $7-$50 per square foot, largely dependent on the material you choose. This post will help you price a patio.
An irrigation system for a typical 5000 sq. ft. lot will be $4500-$6500. Here is everything you need to know about irrigation systems in Portland.
A new sod lawn will cost $2-$4 per sq. ft.
A simple plant installation for a typical front yard will be $2500 - $5000. Why are plants so expensive?
A wood burning fire pit will cost between $1500 and $5000, depending on the material used to build it.
Low voltage lighting systems cost $300-$450 per fixture. Learn about the LED low voltage landscape lighting we install.
A simple bubbler style water feature will be $3000 - $6000.
Koi ponds start at $10,000 and go up from there.
Landscape maintenance starts at $125 per month.
Landscape cleanups in the spring or fall are typically $500 - $1500.
Lawn care, which includes weekly mowing and edging, is usually $40 - $80 per week.
Full landscape maintenance is $125 - $300 per month on a year-round basis.
Pruning with power trimmers is $50 - $70 per hour, plus dump fees.
Hand pruning is $75 - $150 per hour, plus dump fees.
Sprinkler and water feature repairs are usually around $150 for the first hour, and then $50 - $100 per hour after that plus materials.
Landscape Maintenance Resources:
How much does lawn care cost in Portland?
Over at lawnsite.com, a forum mainly frequented by landscape professionals, there was once a busy thread that posts an interesting question. The poster asks, "Should I put prices for landscape maintenance, lawn care, lawn mowing, etc. on my website?"
The consensus is "No". Many of the respondents feel that you are locking yourself into your lowest price and maybe giving the competition an advantage. I disagree. Rather than argue with strangers, I decided to post everything I know about landscape maintenance program pricing in the Portland area.
What Does Lawn Mowing Cost?
In the Portland metro area most people have small lawns, between 1000 and 2000 square feet. What should you expect to pay to have your lawn mowed and edged? There are guys that will come when you want for around $25 per visit. Notice, I said "guys"- not landscapers. Most at this price point are really just guys with lawn mowers. They are not a licensed business, may or may not pay taxes (do they give a discount for cash?), and are probably not insured. Some of them will become legitimate businesses, and I don't look down on these guys. If you need a mow as cheaply as possible, this is where you go.
If you want to hire a landscaping professional, you will usually pay more. Many have a minimum for stopping the truck and unloading their commercial lawnmowers. This is usually $35 to $45 a visit.
What Does Landscape Maintenance Cost?
Landscape maintenance is different than lawn mowing. Landscape maintenance usually includes mowing, edging, weed removal, leaf and debris removal, fertilizing, blowing and maybe even pruning.
Most companies offering this level of service in Portland require year-round service. This means you get around 42 visits a year, with visits being less frequent in the winter. However, you pay the same amount each month. This keeps your bill consistent (it would be huge in the summer!) and allows your landscaper to feed his family protein in the winter.
Expect to pay $200-$400 per month for full landscape maintenance in Portland.
Most landscape professionals in Portland are in this same ballpark. One advantage of hiring a company that offers this level of service is proper licensing. You do not have to be a licensed contractor to do landscape maintenance. However, most of the companies that perform this kind of landscape care have an LCB. This means that they are a licensed, bonded, and insured landscape contractor. They are qualified (and legal) to do almost any kind of landscaping project- not just maintenance but improvements.
How To Find The Right Landscape Service
There are soooooo many people and companies that will maintain your landscape. How can you find a good (or even great) one?
The best way is to find someone who is already doing a great job in your neighborhood. Keep your eyes open for someone who looks professional and who is working on one of the nicer gardens in the area.
This approach almost guarantees two things: (1) you will be hiring someone who knows what they are doing, and (2) they will be very happy to help. Landscape maintenance pros hate the time spent driving between properties, so they love to add clients close to existing ones.
Hopefully this has taken some of the mystery out of landscape maintenance, and next year your yard will look really nice!